Incorporating Scientific Publishing into an Undergraduate Neuroscience Course : A Case Study Using IMPULSE

Leslie Sargent Jones, Laura Allen, Kim Cronise, Natasha Juneja, Rebecca Kohn, Ashley Miller, Azka Nazir, Andy Patel, Sarah M Sweitzer, Erin Vickery, Anna Walton, Robert Young

Abstract


The journal IMPULSE offers undergraduates worldwide the opportunity to publish research and serve as peer reviewers for the submissions of others. Undergraduate faculty have recognized the journals value in engaging students working in their labs in the publication process. However, integration of scientific publication into an undergraduate laboratory classroom setting has been lacking. We report here on a course at Ursinus College where 20 students taking Molecular Neurobiology were required to submit manuscripts to IMPULSE. The syllabus allowed for the laboratory research to coincide with the background research and writing of the manuscript. Students completed their projects on the impact of drugs on the Daphnia magna nervous system while producing manuscripts ready for submission by week 7 of the course. Findings from a survey completed by the students and perceptions of the faculty member teaching the course indicated that students spent much more time writing, were more focused on completing the assays, completed the assays with larger data sets, were more engaged in learning the scientific concepts and were more thorough with their revisions of the paper knowing that it might be published. Further, the professor found she was more thorough in critiquing students papers knowing they would be externally reviewed. Incorporating journal submission into the course stimulated an in depth writing experience and allowed for a deeper exploration of the topic than students would have experienced otherwise. This case study provides evidence that IMPULSE can be successfully used as a means of incorporating scientific publication into an undergraduate laboratory science course. This approach to teaching undergraduate neuroscience allows for a larger number of students to have hands-on research and scientific publishing experience than would be possible with the current model of a few students in a faculty members laboratory. This report illustrates that IMPULSE can be incorporated as an integral part of an academic curriculum with positive outcomes on student engagement and performance.

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